Words Matter: Stop Using “Ad-Hoc” When You Don’t Mean To

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My best friend and mentor Daryl Plummer used to say to me all the time, “Words matter.”. He used to say it because we’d get into these heated discussions that would dissolve into the phrase “It’s just semantics…” Well, it isn’t! Semantics do matter! Today I will address an annoyance I have with how the market uses the term ad hoc. Let’s start with some basic definitions with respect to this market.

  • Interactions are the combination of all the facets of file/data/information movement and related information (Metadata) about the file transfer including sender, receiver and intermediary. At this point I must acknowledge my colleague and friend of 9 years David Bennett, CTO of Axway, for his use of “interactions” with respect to MFT. My use of the word is consistent with his, strengthening the term in the MFT marketplace.

  • Implicit or Ad-Hoc interactions are interactions in which the entities and/or the mechanisms used to interact are defined at the moment of execution. They may or may not conform TO corporate standards, polices and processes.
    • Example: Marketing sends out a large PowerPoint file via email to a customer in response to a field request.
  • Explicit interactions are interactions in which sender, receiver and the mechanisms involved in the interaction are documented and generally conform to corporate standards, polices and processes.
    • Example: Every other Wednesday, accounting sends payroll information via a browser or dedicated MFT solution in a spreadsheet to the payroll firm.

Today we generally use ad-hoc as a synonym to “people based MFT”.  Companies looking to better manage the implicit and explicit MFT people based processes should consider solutions that allow companies to enforce their policies around security, privacy and risk mitigation in environments where people are sharing information with other people (collaboration). Today the number one tool that is used to facilitate collaboration between knowledge workers is e-mail. Unfortunately most e-mail solutions, have storage limitations and solutions that offload email attachments tend to work in isolation; forcing administrators to recreate policies around authentication and access control.

Companies should consider more comprehensive solutions and services that manage collaborative interactions and proactively apply encryption, access control, authentication, digital loss prevention and content management. These technologies should also provide both proactive and reactive activity management technologies, allowing companies to fully audit and report against all interactions.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Frank! Nice clarification and 'down to earth' explanation of the terms!

  2. vidall
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Frank!

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